Nature of Science and Nature of Scientists: Implications for University Education in the Natural Sciences

Ashwin Mohan, Gregory J. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The past decade has seen multiple debates and discussions over the appropriate framing of Nature of Science (NOS) for science education. These debates have stemmed from a diversity of philosophical views on what science fundamentally is. In post-secondary STEM education, the goals of a science education rest in having students socialize into scientific STEM communities by engaging in research. In this paper, we highlight how NOS is taken up by individuals within scientific communities, drawing on historical and concurrent examples of STEM communities. Terming this the Nature of Scientist (NOSist), we argue that a post-secondary NOS education must take into account how the individual’s participation within a community of practice is predicated on the possession of a different set of epistemic aims, values, and practices than what is typically characterized within NOS frameworks. The switch in analytical lens from the collective as a whole to the individual within a collective contributes to an understanding of how scientists function within scientific communities. We conclude with recommendations and a call for further studies to characterize how individual scientists negotiate practice within the dialectic of the scientific communities that they are members of.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1116
Number of pages20
JournalScience and Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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